After being turned down by at least six candidates, the New York Philharmonic has found a new leader for its prime administrative office. Former Houston Symphony executive director Matthew VanBesien has accepted an offer to become the new executive director of the Big Apple's premier orchestra.
VanBesien became general manager of the Houston Symphony in 2003 and was appointed executive director and CEO in 2005 when Ann Kennedy stepped down. He left Houston in August 2009 to become managing director of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, a post he currently holds.
No contract terms have been released; he will replace Zarin Mehta, whose paycheck is $807,000. Gary W. Parr, the orchestra's chairman said they expect him to be at the Phil for a long time. VanBesien is set to arrive in the spring and overlap with the current leadership.
Amid the nonprofit orchestra's challenges are financial shortfalls and liabilities, musician contract negotiations, a less-than-desired concert hall and the lack of a summer home akin to the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood or Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom.
VanBesien is credited with bringing back the Houston Symphony from the dark economic ages when floods had devastated the orchestra's music archive and instrument collection, lost the support of Enron and endured a two-day strike that hurt the spirit of the musicians and audiences.